I first came into contact with Zack Makoare in 1997 when he became a hostel supervisor while I was attending Te Aute College. At the time, he was good friends with my father and our families spent a lot of time together camping at the beach. When I was 14, he taught me and others how to snorkel and collect pāua. I have been diving ever since, and I have him to thank for providing me with that life skill.
Over the past ten years I have seen Zack progress from running small whānau wānanga to developing rangatahi wānanga involving 200 plus people. This has resulted in the establishment of Te Taitimu Trust. The Trust is now a nationwide leader in rangatahi leadership and development, and multi-sectoral collaboration. Integral to the success of Te Taitimu Trust is Zack’s own leadership qualities, his vision, and his ability to bring people together, no matter what their background is.
Zack’s ability to inspire rangatahi through his spoken word is mesmerising. He is able to capture the hearts and minds of rangatahi, some of who are on the margins of society, in a way that resonates with their realities. He is a motivator and is able to get the best out of our rangatahi, even when it may seem that they are ‘vulnerable’, ‘at-risk’, or ‘delinquents’.
Zack has changed the way I look at mental health within our communities. Zack has role modelled the compassion, empathy, and patience that is required when working with those who are suffering mental illness. His leadership work with bereaved whānau of suicide has also highlighted these skills, and his overwhelming aroha and care for the bereaved whānau is evident to see.
While Zack may lack the academic qualifications of other noted leaders, he nevertheless possesses a much sought after qualification, a QBE (Qualified by Experience). His background as a freezing worker for 25 years, provided him with 25 years at the ‘University of Life’. This background, as well as his own personal traits have helped contribute to the leader he is today.
Dr Jordan Waiti